Bologna is a lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. It has a population of about 388,000. It has historically been an important cultural city in Italy and is one of the country’s main cultural centres. It was named European Capital of Culture in 2000 and a UNESCO City of Music in 2006 - the first in Italy. As a City of Music, Bologna is required to foster musical projects all year round, including its one-of-a-kind International Museum and Library of Music, which is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Among the city’s many medieval towers are the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda.
Bologna’s other two main cultural outputs are theatre and food. Theatre has been popular in the city since the 16th century, and today Bologna has a major opera house, Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
Bologna’s cuisine is probably best known for ragú alla bolognese, the sauce to which it gives its name, but the city and the surrounding region are also famous for hard cheese, cured pork, and sweet desserts.
Bologna is one of the main educational centres in Europe, and as a result has earned the nickname “the learned one” (la dotta) across Italy. This is in direct reference to the University of Bologna, which is one of the oldest and most highly regarded universities in the world. Founded in 1088, it now has campuses spread throughout the city. Bologna is also home to the first American postgraduate school in Europe, the Bologna Center of John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), which runs a regular exchange programme involving American and Italian students.
This educational excellence is also true of Bologna’s public school system, which is one of the best in Italy. However, many expatriates living in Bologna send their children to English-speaking international schools, as the public-school system teaches only in Italian. The main international school in Bologna is the International School of Bologna, which is considered one of the best in the country. In the wider area, there is also the International School of Modena.
To cater for different interests and hobbies, whether it is culture, cuisine, art, or the great outdoors, this vibrant city’s diverse array of activities offers something for everyone.